Black mould forming in corner of ceiling

How to Stop Damp Occurring in Your Flat?

8 September 2021

Damp is a problem that affects thousands of people everyday throughout the UK, whether they know it or not. The thing is, if you are aware of a nasty build-up of damp within your living space it’s probably going to be first in line when it comes to your list of home maintenance priorities.

So, what can you do if you want to stop the onset of damp within your flat? We have put together this list of general tips that can help you fight off the potential start of damp taking hold in your flat.

Have Your Building Surveyed

This might not seem to be the most helpful step to take if you are looking for ways to combat interior based damp that stems from condensation – you can skip ahead if you already know your flats moisture levels are too high.

However, if you believe that your damp issues are a result of your building – namely its exterior or construction materials that have developed a fault, then you may want to get your landlord or building owner involved.

If you live in a rented flat for example, your landlord may have an obligation to you to inspect, survey, and fix damp issues if they are being brought about by the building rather than your habits.

The same can be said for a building owner if you live in a flat you own within a larger complex. Issues within the building itself should be taken up with the owner of the building itself, as certain failures within various construction materials can lead to damp setting in.

Rising Damp in Flat

Rising damp for example could easily affect the inhabitant of a ground floor flat, as rising damp is brought about when a damp proof course fails near the ground of a building. Once that DPC has failed, a properties walls are at the mercy of moisture rising through capillary action, which is where moisture is drawn upwards through the masonry and brickwork, allowing damp to set in.

In this situation, it’s likely that any occupants above ground floor level won’t notice the damp creeping in as rising damp tends to travel no higher than about a meter. However, the damage to the brickwork and the interior of the flat itself can be catastrophic, and lead to ruined timber, black mould and destroyed furnishings.

Penetrating Damp in Flat

A different form of damp that might be more widely noticed in a shared building is penetrating damp. Penetrating damp is a form of dampness brought about by more common building failures, things like faulty guttering, window lintels failing, or even pointing becoming worn.

In these situations, your flat might be retaining more moisture within its walls and other construction materials due to the condition of the property itself. Always check with the building owner to see the results of the most recent damp and timber survey, or request that a fresh survey be undertaken to learn precisely why your flat might be suffering from damp.

Any works to remedy damp stemming from penetrating or rising damp are going to involve exterior repairs – and depending on the setup and situation of your flat, it could well be that you are held responsible for all, part, or potentially none of the repairs or mitigation to alleviate the damp problem.

This all hinges on your stake in your flat and the ownership and responsibility you have to the property, its exterior wall and the conditions that led to the damp itself.

Can Condensation Build Up in a Flat?

condensation causing peeling wallpaper

Definitely. One of the main causes of damp building up within a flat is as a result of condensation. It isn’t a problem that is contained exclusively to flats – but it is one that is made worse if a living space is smaller.

The reason for this is because dense, moist air produced by everyday life within a flat transfers onto different surfaces within the flat, and once that moist air becomes a liquid again, it soaks into wherever it lands – and over time, that can escalate to a full scale damp problem.

This comes along with all of the potential side effects of damp–black mould that can lead to health issues, ruined interior decoration, and of course an overall negative effect on the quality and sale price of the flat itself.

Causes Of Condensation

Condensation, simply put, is formed not by the flat – but by its inhabitants. It’s present in every property, but in a smaller space like a flat it is much more likely to build up and create a negative effect.

Every action you make includes a transfer of moisture into the environment. Breathing releases water particles on a small scale, and from a larger standpoint, a long shower is going to release a lot of dense, warm moisture into the air.

So, imagine the amount of condensation produced if you were to complete an hour of exercise, such as an exercise bike workout on a cool day, followed by a hot shower. First, you have your perspiration adding to the condensation, then the steam of the shower itself.

On a cool day, you will find that the condensation will easily move from a gaseous state in the warm air to a liquid one in contact with cool surfaces like windows and walls. If that builds up over time with additional moisture producing activities, things can get serious quickly.

If you don’t take steps to reduce and alleviate that kind of moisture building up, you are going to potentially have a horrible damp issue on your hands.

Stopping Condensation in Your Flat

condensation on window

Luckily, stopping condensation in its tracks before it becomes a major problem is a task you might find pretty easy. Flat living is a little different to living in a self-contained terraced, semi-detached, or detached property, which means there may be a few measures that you need to take that those living in a house might not – but that doesn’t mean stopping condensation is an unattainable goal.

Improving Air Flow and Ventilation

The first step in an effort to reduce condensation is to consider the air flow and ventilation in the flat. Creating air flow in a flat might be a little more difficult than it would be in a privately owned home – especially if you are a renter, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Firstly, consider the areas in which you have the worst examples of condensation building up. Usually, this will be found in the kitchen or the bathroom. Discover if it is possible for you to have an extractor fan installed, that can safely remove dense, moist air from the room.

You will find that in many situations an extractor fan is a brilliant way of reducing condensation, especially in rooms where moist air is made quickly, from the likes of steam. However, if you are unable to install an extractor fan, you should look into other methods of promoting ventilation.

Extractor fan

You can investigate the installation of trickle vents within your windows, tiny slits that allow a constant stream of air into your flat throughout the day so that your flat remains ventilated even when you aren’t home – and its safe, meaning that high rise flats can have these vents installed without any concerns.

Look At The Layout Of The Flat

You will also want to look into the actual layout of the flat itself. If you live in a flat that is smaller than a semidetached home, for example, it could well be the case that your flat is more cluttered, or simply more full than other properties might usually be.

This on its own isn’t an issue, and we aren’t the ones to judge – but consider that in order to have adequate ventilation within a flat, you need the air within to move about freely. That simply cannot happen in a way that is going to provide adequate ventilation if you have too many possessions within your flat.

This even extends to areas like your cupboards and wardrobes – make sure you don’t have a cupboard crammed full of mugs, or a wardrobe fit to burst with shirts, and you might find that ventilation takes place naturally a lot easier, and that there is less surface area for the condensation to spread onto.

What Are You Filling Your Flat With?

You will also want to think about what you are filling your flat with. Items like plants might not be the moisture absorbing answer you are after.

As we mentioned in our blog on the topic of condensation within conservatories, you need to make sure whatever plants you have within your property are likely to absorb moisture as opposed to release it.

Otherwise, you might find that your flat is producing and retaining a lot more moisture than it would if it was devoid of plants. Do your research before planting, and find if your chosen houseplants will help or hinder your condensation problem.

You can also consider the use of a dehumidifier. They are often more useful and effective in smaller spaces than they are in larger rooms, and you might find that in your flat a dehumidifier helps reduce the amount of dense air you are creating.

Your Day To Day Behaviour

Finally, there is your day-to-day behaviour. Consider washing and drying clothes. If you take warm, wet clothes out of a washing machine and proceed to dry them indoors, you are only allowing the moisture in your clothes to transfer to your interior walls in the flat itself.

Where you can, dry your clothes outdoors, or in a well ventilated area. Consider your own washing and bathroom routines – too long in the shower might produce far too much steam for your bathroom to cope with, and shorter time washing could help reduce the amount of steam being produced.

Also, consider your heating habits. Remember that maintaining your flat at a constant temperature is going to help reduce the transfer of condensation from the warm air to cooler surfaces surrounding it.

Keeping your flat at a regulated temperature is important to avoid that kind of transfer. However, it could be difficult if you are in a high rise flat, or above neighbours who produce a lot of heat that naturally rises into your own flat.

In these situations, you will want to investigate different heating options, potentially smart heating, so that you can heat and cool your flat even when you aren’t there. Of course, used in conjunction with proper ventilation systems you are going to see much more success, and be capable of maintaining a lesser level of condensation in your flat for a longer time.

Seek Professional Condensation Alleviation Assistance

If you need professional help in reducing the amount of condensation that your flat produces on a daily basis, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of damp and condensation experts.

As well as producing a full survey with tailored recommendations of the actions you should take to reduce condensation, our technicians will be able to undertake and complete that remediation work for you – leaving your flat in a much better and dryer state than it was in.

Call 0800 288 8660 or get in touch online here to begin today.